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New faces looking to make their mark

"We've had plenty of numbers in and around the squad competing for places so it's been quite a healthy, competitive pre-season"

3 September 2020

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Rovers Ladies Manager Gemma Donnelly says there is a positive vibe emerging within her new-look squad, who are aiming to hit the ground running this weekend.

The Blues travel to face Leicester City at Farley Way Stadium in the opening game of the 2020-21 campaign (2pm kick-off) and Donnelly is happy with how build-up to the new season has gone. 

"We've had a really good pre-season," she explained. "We've been on the grass down at the Academy and COVID-19 has meant we had smaller groups to work with and we've been able to build on that. 

"We've had plenty of numbers in and around the squad competing for places so it's been quite a healthy, competitive pre-season. 

"The games that we had have been tough. We've played Durham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton and Birmingham City, but that's something you want, to test the team and identify the strengths and the weaknesses that we have.

"We've got to come across the likes of Liverpool, Leicester City and London City Lionesses, who are all full-time clubs. We're not quite at that stage yet but it's obviously something that we want to aspire to be. 

"It's small steps for us at the minute. We've made some really fantastic signings over the summer and we've been able to attract those players. It's exciting and it's been one of our better pre-seasons I'd say."

Donnelly has so far added eight new faces over the summer, with a trio of goalkeepers - Emma Bradley, Alex Brooks and Fran Bentley (on loan from Manchester United), along with defenders Issy Dean and Charlotte Newsham. 

The midfield has also been bolstered by recruiting Emma Doyle, Meg Boydell and Leah Embley, and Donnelly revealed they have settled in to the group well.

The Rovers boss continued: "They've all just got their heads down and got on with it. The girls that we've brought in have certainly added competition and are much how I like to play it really, sort of under the radar. 

"A number of those have been through our Academy as well so it's fantastic to welcome them back.

"I've watched the interviews so far for the players that we've brought in and they've all spoke about how they want to cement their place in the starting 11, how they want to gain valuable experience at this level. 

"But actually they are bringing in some quality and experience themselves and they haven't looked out of place.

"There's a good vibe around the Club currently, with the youth that we've got, because they are so eager to prove a point. 

"And that's fantastic for the girls that are a little more experienced, it gives them a little bit of a kick as well, so it's been really encouraging."

Follow Sunday's behind-closed-doors game against Leicester City via Rovers Ladies' official Twitter account, @RoversLadies.

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